Chameleons and Coccidia - Ponazuril offers new hope

luckykarma

New Member
I've been charting the effects of Ponazuril on a new animal I got at the show almost a month ago. He's a 5 month old Panther.

I started with Appertex but the animal didn't do well on it. This could've been due to providing the med orally. Each time by the 3rd day he would stop eating and become lethargic. After a day off he got energy back however by the 3rd treatment he puked the entire contents of his stomach. The same loss of appetite and lethargy followed. Others have had good success with Appertex when injected into a feeder. This is supposing the animal is eating things that could be injected, unfortunately. Appertex did start to bring the count down although with just a day off it went back up and then started to come down after treatment was restarted.

Due to that bad reaction to the Appertex in the new animal and an older animal I discussed the issue with Dave Weldon. I had wanted to attend the parasite seminar on the 2nd day of the show but luckily Dave attended.

Dr. Funk talked about a new coccidia drug called Ponazuril Dave informed me. Dave had heard about it from a person who had a Bearded Dragon. Although he never got any feedback. I called our local herp vet - Dr. Stein -who is very progressive on seeking new drugs. I mentioned Ponazuril and he needed dosages. I spoke directly to Dr. Funk who prescribed, amazingly, two treatments 48 hours apart, a full week off the med, then two more treatments 48 hours apart. 30mg/kg.

One noted caveat about Ponazuril is it was developed for horses and to buy it in packaged form is hundreds of $$. However, as Dr. Funk noted and as Dr. Stein ordered, getting it from a compound pharmacy brought the price down to $23 plus shipping. That was for an amount sufficient to cure more than a dozen animals.

Dr. Stein changed some things no doubt because he's a research maniac. I haven't gotten a chance to find out why. It appears he was correct because I dosed another animal according to the frequency Dr. Funk prescribed and it wasn't as effective. Dr. Stein upped the strength to 60mg from 50mg. He also prescribed 3 consecutive days, followed by a week off, then 3 consecutive days.

As you can see from the chart Ponazuril continued to kill coccidia for the week the animal wasn't dosed. [This is amazing considering Dave Weldon found with other drugs as soon as the animal was off it for a few days the coccidia count started to skyrocket.]

By the 9th day the animal was completely clean. As noted Ponazuril is coccidicidal as in it KILLS coccidia not merely reduces its numbers relying on the animal's immune system to do the final eradication. On the 10th day, the day I needed to start the final 3 treatments I found 1 maybe 2 coccidia. After the second 3 days of treatment he's been clean for 5+ days. If I didn't find coccidia I floated the specimen up to three times or used another part of the feces to make sure.

There was absolutely no side effects I observed using Ponazuril. The 5 month old never suffered the loss of energy or appetite. There was nothing I could see other than maybe he pooped in the afternoon rather than the morning. Since he's a new animal I don't know his cycles. After being off the drug for 3 days he does poop in the morning though.

I'm still doing research so I cannot tell you how overdose safe the drug is like Panacur. I don't think it has any of the frightening possible organ damage like Albon. I despise Albon. Everyone I talked to and all my animals that needed to be on Albon suffered badly and lost their appetite by the 3rd day. It took weeks for my animals and others I talked to in order for their Chams to eat on their own. I really suggest when your vet prescribes the knee jerk Albon you ask about Ponazuril.

Ryan sent me samples which were wall to wall coccidia. He just got a microscope and stated after 4 days it went down to 150. My guy started out with hundreds, then Appertex knocked it down some until I stopped treatment.

I know there are vets who are set in their ways and want to prescribe the tried and true in their minds. If anyone is in the L.A. area I encourage you to visit Dr. Stein at Shipps Animal Hospital in Beverly Hills. He's very progressive as mentioned and very cautious about spending your money unnecessarily. Ryan had an amazing experience whereas Dr. Stein prescribed enough to treat all his animals rather than demanding to see all the poo, do fecals, prescribe the med for each individual animal etc. Ryan got off with an office visit and $27 for the drug.

Hopefully Dave Weldon will chime in here. In his words, "Now that Ponazuril has entered the consciousness of the chameleon world, coccidia will become a simple parasite to deal with just like pinworms and roundworms and not spoken about with hushed tones in back alleys".

Also the breeder who sold all the infected animals when finally contacted by Ryan claimed it must have come from a feeder. Dave Weldon will chime in on that urban legend.

A final note. Even though this is a huge breakthrough for dreaded coccidia you still need to clean and disinfect everything. You don't want to have the animal on Ponazuril forever. :rolleyes:
 

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Dave Weldon

Avid Member
Howdy All,

I think I'll quote myself from the "Fecal Float" thread :):

You'd think that commercial feeders would be a good place to lay blame for introducing coccidia into our chameleons’ pristine environments :eek:. After years of using commercial feeders and not infecting any of my past or present chameleons via that pathway, I'm convinced that coccidia does not move through the commercial feeder channel. But coccidia can move through feeders as a means of coccidia transmission to our chameleons. If a chameleon already has coccidia and if the feeder is exposed to that coccidia already present via fecal contamination of the enclosure and that feeder is allowed to be eaten by an uninfected reptile then the infection is allowed to spread. The bottom line is never remove any feeder from one chameleon's enclosure and feed it to another. Never remove a feeder from a reptile enclosure other than to destroy the feeder. Avoid leaving feeders in the presence of any fecal material for any length of time, especially if you suspect that there is a parasite problem. If a feeder has been exposed to coccidia, for example, and then eaten by the same chameleon originally carrying that coccidia then re-infection, even during treatment, may occur. This is why it is so important to keep surfaces clean during treatment for coccidia (and many other parasite types). Re-infection is likely to occur by contamination as soon as the drug treatment stops. Disinfection of the chameleon’s living quarters combined with the correct drugs will eventually break the coccidian life cycle.

Don't breed any chameleon that is infected with any parasite, especially coccidia. Sexually transmitted parasites (STPs) are possible since everything is passing through the cloaca whether it is poop or hemipenes :eek:. My male Veiled picked-up his only case of coccidia while he was out on a "date". No more dates... :(.

Coccidia can be passed through contaminated soil only if that soil has been exposed to reptile fecal material already containing coccidia. It is highly unlikely that any soil not exposed to that coccidia-laced reptile fecal material will carry any coccidia capable of infecting our chameleons. This is unlike pinworms which could easily be in backyard soil contaminated by infected wild or domestic mammal poop. Your mother had good reason to keep your dirty fingers out of your mouth :eek:.

Luckykarma made an important point about feeders and coccidia. Even the best breeders can have an outbreak of coccidia or other parasites. It's as easy as having one unknowingly infected chameleon infecting some crickets that then make their way into the bellies of what were coccidia-free chameleons :(. A chameleon may not show symptoms right away. That chameleon is likely to be part of a breeding program (after all we're talking about a breeder :eek:) and the next thing you know, the infection is spread across others. If an infected chameleon's enclosure is then used to house a new breeder or converted to holding babies; well, you can guess what's going to happen next :eek:.

Breeders do a lot of things to make the process of breeding, incubating, hatching, and raising chameleons easier and more profitable. Having their own microscope almost seems like a mandatory tool for a breeder to be able to keep on top of parasite outbreaks. If they are able to spot parasite problems in newly arriving chameleons (quarrantine!) then there should be no outbreak to begin with :eek:. For additional insurance, periodic spot checking all of the chameleons in a breeder's stock will help keep any parasite sneak attacks from spreading :).
 

Ryan Jarosek

New Member
I can't tell you how happy how everything has turned out. Thank you Gary and Dave. I am still tracking my guys but will post my results as I get them. I will probably be playing with some poop tonight so I should have an update. Things have been looking really good.

I received a veiled yesterday and did a float on him. Completely clean and put on the clean side of town. I can't tell you how convenient it is to have a Microscope.
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Excellent info on coccidia. I am so glad that my little guy checked clear. It had been a long two months! Thanks again to Gary and Dave. Jann
 

luckykarma

New Member
If a feeder has been exposed to coccidia, for example, and then eaten by the same chameleon originally carrying that coccidia then re-infection, even during treatment, may occur. This is why it is so important to keep surfaces clean during treatment for coccidia (and many other parasite types). Re-infection is likely to occur by contamination as soon as the drug treatment stops. Disinfection of the chameleon’s living quarters combined with the correct drugs will eventually break the coccidian life cycle.

I think this is a VERY important issue for everyone to remember. Dr. Funk recommended daily cleaning. If possible I would recommend trying to cup feed only until the infection has passed.

Jann dealt with this for 2 months which is not unusual. Dave dealt with it for 1 year! So now imagine 13 days and its completely gone. Pretty awesome. :)
 

Tokoloshe

Avid Member
Hey Dave et al,
Good thread very interesting indeed!
I have a couple of questions for you, which parasites are considered
STP's?
Any recommendations for locating a resonably priced microscope?
What capabilities (focal strength) does it need to have...I think someone
mentioned 20-40X for most parasites, 200x for coccidia...is that about right?

Cheers,
T
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
Hey Dave et al,
Good thread very interesting indeed!
I have a couple of questions for you, which parasites are considered
STP's?
Any recommendations for locating a resonably priced microscope?
What capabilities (focal strength) does it need to have...I think someone
mentioned 20-40X for most parasites, 200x for coccidia...is that about right?

Cheers,
T
Howdy T,

I would consider any parasite that can be found in poop to be transmittable between chameleons during mating (STP). This includes but is not limited to pinworms, hookworms, roundworms, coccidia, strongyloides, giardia, flagellates etc.

Obviously, there are a zillion microscopes out there to choose from and they range up to a zillion dollars too. Some of the typical suppliers out there are Nikon, Olympus, American Optical, B&L etc. Some really good deals on used equipment can be found if you know what you are looking at. Unless you know how to spot damage and know how to repair a microscope, I can't recommend chasing-down a used 'scope. In the new but affordable 'scopes, eBay has a few sellers of what are referred to in the world of microspy as "Pacific Rim" 'scopes. They get this generic name because of where they are made and because they really don't have a true brand name of their own (like Nikon or Olympus). They are often built on the same assembly lines as Nikon, Olympus etc. but they use cheaper (but good enough) optics and other components. Their price/performance point is in our range of satisfaction. They can be found new from between $150 and $250 in a bidding situation on eBay while virtually the same "Pacific Rim" scope on the street sells for $600 and up (Celestron). The real Nikon or Olympus versions would likely be $1000's. The typical "Buy it now" eBay price will usually range between $250 and $300 for these knock-offs.. Sometimes shipping is free on the "Buy it Now" items so that can account for $30 against a bid price :eek:. Precision*World is one of those Pacific Rim microscope suppliers. I and several other keepers have bought and have been satisified with their microscopes. I usually recommend a trinocular version so that you could more easily add a video or USB or std. digital camera later on (or right away!) You can add a camera etc. to a binocular microscope by removing an eyepiece and inserting the camera there but it can become very cumbersome.

There are lots of specs when it comes to microscopes. Don't let magnification take more of your attention that it's worth. The quality of the optics determines the resolution and these low-cost 'scopes have just enough resolution to satisfy amateurs like us :eek:. Think of optical quality vs. price being somewhat exponential. A single high quality 100x objective lens might cost 10 times the price of our entire microscope! Essentially, you are buying resolution to see tiny (microscopic :D) details that even when magnified, can't be discerned. The best way to describe resolution is to think of it like blowing-up a digital photo. Things might be getting bigger but you still may not be able to see the details of what it looks like :(.

Cut to the chase:

You want WF (wide field) 10x eyepieces and 4x, 10x, 40x and 100x objectives. This will give you 40x, 100x, 400x, and 1000x final magnification. The 1000x isn't too useful with this quality of optics since resolution etc. are starting to catch-up to it. A final magnification of 100x and 400x is where you'll actually spend most of your time observing parasites.

Examples of Precision*World microscopes that will usually meet our needs:
http://shop.ebay.com/items/?_nkw=tr...=0&_trksid=m194&ssPageName=STRK:MEFSRCHX:SRCH

Precision*World usually puts a microscope up for "no minimum" bidding that falls into our use range every week or so. So long as all of you don't start a bidding war, there is a good chance to get one between $150 and $250 :).

Examples of magnification using my Precision*World (Amscope T400A) microscope:

Coccidia at 100x:
Coccidia100x.jpg


Coccidia at 400x:
Coccidia400x.jpg


Pinworm egg at 400x and then using PC zoom (not too bad for resolution using a cheap 'scope):
Pinworm2.jpg


Resolving the tiny squid-like tentacles of a Trichomonad (middle-left):
ProtozoanCroppedIMG_0013.jpg
 

chamelisa

New Member
Had I only known 5 years ago...

I have the Celestron Research model and paid $500 for it at Fry's Electronics. I am quite envious of the chameleon keepers who have the trinocular model.

Dave, can I really use my camera with my binocular model? If so, what kind of camera could I use and would I need special attachments?

Anyway, I'm sure sometime after the new year I will be selling the microscope on eBay and looking for a new one that will allow me to photograph parasites easily. That is a very nice feature considering all of the communication done online to help other keepers.
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
...Dave, can I really use my camera with my binocular model? If so, what kind of camera could I use and would I need special attachments?...
Howdy Elisa,

Putting credit where credit is do: A few years ago, it was Elisa who loaned me her microscope that then sent me down the path of getting my own :)! Thanks again :D.

Here is an example of using a binocular microscope like yours, with a PC and USB camera. It drops right into where the eyepiece usually goes.

http://www.amscope.com/images/Picture_3736-a.jpg

It looks like it comes with some adapters if it needs one.
http://www.amscope.com/images/Picture_203397-a.jpg

Here it is for ~$90 640x480 (0.3MP) (not very high res. but might be ok for what we do...)
http://cgi.ebay.com/MICROSCOPE-STIL...48741QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262

Here's their 1.3MP USB camera for about $160:
http://cgi.ebay.com/New-1-3M-PC-USB...48741QQcmdZViewItemQQ_trksidZp1742.m153.l1262

I didn't look for any potentially good deals via bidding.

If I recall, Gesang and Chameleonator, both on this forum, have a USB setup. Post some shots and describe the USB camera that you ended-up with and how well you like it :).
 

chamelisa

New Member
Putting credit where credit is do: A few years ago, it was Elisa who loaned me her microscope that then sent me down the path of getting my own :)! Thanks again :D.

:eek: Ahhhh Dave, I totally forgot about that. I'm really happy to see all of this discussion on parasites and microscopes. I have learned a lot from you. You have provided some great explanations of how parasites can and do affect keepers at every level.

Thanks for the reply and the links. I will get busy.
 

Tokoloshe

Avid Member
Thanks Dave I appreciate the info.
Now the decision comes into what I want more, a nice lens for
my digital slr or a microscope...? Hmmmn!

Could you post some more pics of different parasites, and perhaps explain to everyone
how you set up the slides, and set up a key to identify the different parasites?

I know it is a big job, and buying a micro book would probably fulfill the same goal, but it would be nice to have something to refer to when dealing with the little Ba$tard$!

Cheers,
Trevor.
 

Ryan Jarosek

New Member
Thanks Dave I appreciate the info.
Now the decision comes into what I want more, a nice lens for
my digital slr or a microscope...? Hmmmn!

Could you post some more pics of different parasites, and perhaps explain to everyone
how you set up the slides, and set up a key to identify the different parasites?

I know it is a big job, and buying a micro book would probably fulfill the same goal, but it would be nice to have something to refer to when dealing with the little Ba$tard$!

Cheers,
Trevor.

Edit : I don't like the article I sugested. I will find something better
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
Howdy Trevor,

I'll put up a few websites that go into some of the details. What you are asking for would make a great post full of "How To" photos etc. and I'm hoping that one of the members who is looking for a nice task to formulate their microscopic :)rolleyes:) thoughts will jump the chance to do it :eek:.

In the meantime, if anyone is going to buy a microscope to do their own parasite checks, get: "Understanding Reptile Parasites" 2nd Edition 2008 by Roger Lingenberg, DVM. It's 200 pages of great stuff including lots of photos and dosage charts for only about $15.

Generic setup info:
http://yil.jp/iguana/parasite/parasite/fecal_check_marie-e.htm

Parasite info:
http://www.med-ed.virginia.edu/courses/path/para/parasitology_1.cfm

Example of fecal floatation etc.
http://www.lbah.com/intpar.htm

More Parasites:
http://www.medicine.mcgill.ca/tropmed/txt/lecture4 intest nematodes.htm

http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_coccidia.html

http://images.google.com/images?svnum=100&hl=en&lr=lang_en&q=strongyloides

If you ever want to get into staining samples to look for hard to spot parasites:
http://www.btinternet.com/~ukneqas....edures/Permanent_stains/permanent_stains.html

Over 350 parasite photos:
http://instruction.cvhs.okstate.edu/jcfox/htdocs/clinpara/clinpara.htm

Ok, it's someone else's turn. My brain is hurting :eek:.
 

Tokoloshe

Avid Member
Hmmmmn, I was thinking that this might be a great article in the making for the online E-zine...anyone?
PS great links Dave, good effort!
Cheers,
T.
 

Ryan Jarosek

New Member
I have an update on my usage of Ponazuril ,

I have been getting great results but not an all clear after 10 days of treatment. Numbers have gone down from the thousands to the hundreds per slide on a couple. Ones who originally in the 100's have either cleared up completely or only show a few coccidia per slide. I assume I am having this result because of the level of infestation.

My female is completely clean after 7 days. She was not as highly infected as the rest.

The two most heavily loaded have been reduced by a huge amount. I start my second 3 consecutive day of treatments today. It will be very interesting to see how things progress. I will update this thread when I have some more information.
 

luckykarma

New Member
Thanks for the update Ryan. On the most infected animals are you saying you're still seeing hundreds at 10 days? Please keep us posted.
 
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